Wood processing company seeking 200 acres

During the April 4th regular meeting of the Bamberg County Council, Southern Carolina Development reported on the status of upcoming projects that council hopes will stimulate the local economy. If secured by SCD, Project Wolfe is expected bring 100 jobs to Bamberg County and an additional 100-300 million in other investments. The wood processing company that is considering Bamberg County as a home, needs at least 200 developable acres on rail. Kell Anderson, project director for Bamberg County said SCA submitted two Denmark sites for operation consideration and Anderson said they have performed the necessary wetlands analysis on the tracts. He said a consultant is in the process of reviewing results of the in-house engineering department to determine feasibility. Anderson said SCD is also seeking alternative sites as a backup.

Anderson also updated council on the progress of Project Brick, an International wood products company that is being recruited for Bamberg County. If chosen by the company, Bamberg County could acquire up to 110 jobs and $14 million in capital investment. Anderson said SCA will be making presentations to company officials on April 12.

Project Wizard, a light packaging and distribution company is looking at the Cross Rhodes Park as a possible site for their business. This company would bring up to ten start-up employment positions to the community with the potential to hire up to 50 employees over time. Anderson said SCA hosted a site visit with the company’s vice president and SCA’s contractor’s on March 24. “Overall our feedback was positive. “They (the company) indicated that they would be contacting us for further discussions,” said Anderson. He also reported that SCA will be hosting a tour of Bamberg County’s sites (industrial) and available buildings on April 7 and they will host a visit involving representatives from the South Carolina Power Team (Santee Cooper’s economic development agency).

The county’s financial progress has been fairly steady. Finance director Thomas Thomas reported that after eight months, the county has collected YTD 64% of its estimated annual revenue amount. Thomas said the total collected YTD revenue is $4,881,738.

“The county has spent YTD 64% of its total budget ($7,668,651) leaving the current YTD total expenditures at $4,933,873. “Our monthly expenditures came in at $456,625 for the month of March 2011,” Thomas reported. He said department heads are continuing to work in a collaborative effort to stay within their line items and maintain their respective budgets. Thomas said the sheriff’s department gas line item as well along with other gas line items continue to increase due to steady rising of gas prices.

Thomas also reported that the finance committee will soon announce a budget work session in preparation for the upcoming fiscal year 2011-2012.

At the end of March, Bamberg County hospital had a cash balance of $938,432. Cliff Bauer, the hospital’s interim CEO said the hospital is current with all day to day suppliers and has initiated payment plans for past due balances with 18 vendors. YTD, the hospital has received $608,765. Bauer said the county recently received funds that will offset debts. He said those funds are as a result of income tax refunds being held to pay for old debts. The hospital was able to operate in March without the assistance of county funds.

In other business:

• John White, the new manager and Park Ranger for River’s Bridge State Park was introduced. He told council members that the park is good tourism attraction for the county and he hopes it will be visited more. White reminded council that in addition to tours, the park is available for historical presentations and picnics. White said discussions are taking place to add a museum. Tours and other information for the park are available by calling 803-267-3635.

• Robert Milhouse of Robert Milhouse CPA and associates said Bamberg County fared well overall all, but fell short in the area of “government wise” because of the state of the hospital. A full report of the audit will be available on the county’s website.

• Donald Parler, a resident of Denmark wanted to know if council was aware of SC Code Title 6, Sections 6-135. According to Parler, the statute says that county council is responsible for the upkeep of abandoned cemeteries. Parler told council that he has been trying to maintain a cemetery where his great-grand father is buried ever since moving here in 1984 and can no longer afford to maintain it. Council said they would review the statue along with the county’s attorney and proceed accordingly.

• Council passed a resolution of intent to participate in the Great Central U.S. Shake Out and work toward becoming a safer community. Sharon Hammond, director of Emergency Preparedness is encouraging the county to visit http://bamberg.dpa-web.net/ and register for the “Shake Out Drills.” The Shake Out is an opportunity for citizens to prepare for an earthquake as a unit, before one strikes this region,” Hammond said.

• Passed a resolution to recognize the month of April as Fair Housing month in Bamberg County.

• Passed a resolution to recognize National County Government month in Bamberg County.